Ok so we’ve all seen the video by now. For those that don’t you can watch it here:
Let me start by saying the good about this video. I like this guy, his heart seems in the right place. He genuinely wants Jesus, and wants to know Jesus. Wow, awesome. He also understands some of the MAJOR issues plaguing our church culture today. He understands that just because you say ” christian” on facebook doesn’t mean you are one. He understands that we have cared far too much about the outside appearance instead of the heart of people. And he also understands that we need to really understand our faith. The problem is, I don’t think he undersands the faith he is claiming.
I’ve heard all the slogans in the Christian culture “It’s all about relationship and not about religion” “It’s against my relationship to have a religion” and “I hate religion but love Jesus”. I used to say some of these slogans myself. The problem is looking back, I really didn’t understand what the heck I was saying. I became a casualty of what I call slogan Christianity. Slogan Christianity is when your faith goes about as deep as the slogans you’ve heard, and the 10 verses you grew up with (maybe more if you went to AWANA or VBS). It’s dangerous because when you rely on catchy little phrases and a handful of verses to define an entire life, and when some of the slogans go viral (such as the “It’s against my religion to have a relationship”), people blindly follow the slogan without defining the terms. In the example I gave we have to ask what exactly what is religion? What is relationship? If we don’t understand what they mean, then they are useless.
This is the problem I see in this video. While it sounds nice to the ear, it is empty. there is no depth, nothing is defined, nothing is articulated clearly. What is this guy’s definition of religion? Because religion can mean MANY different things. In fact the word religion can mean several things.
- a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing amoral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
- a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
- the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
- the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
- the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
Now look at some of those definitions. Almost all them can fit in to the Christian faith. There are general things Christians agree upon and practice (such as prayer), there is a body of people (the church),. Christianity is a religion by definition! There is no way getting around it. Just because we use the word “religion” doesn’t mean it is necessarily a bad thing. The word religion is from Latin, and (at least in its etymological parts) it literally (and yes, I mean literally literally) means “reconnection” (re + ligio). the word itself is completely Christian!
This is what I mean when I say we have to define what we mean. Just because it’s a popular notion for Christians to be against “religion” doesn’t mean it’s right.
But what does he mean? Well any Christian who grew up in the culture probably gets what this guy is saying. He is saying that the core and fundamental heart of Christianity is not morality but it is Jesus. Jesus must be our starting point, NOT morality. Once we start with morality we then believe that we can somehow earn the love of God. This idea is completely contrary to the Christian belief system.
Also it is important to know the Scriptures. At one point in the video the speaker says “What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion”. This is not true. Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 5:17 “”Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”. Jesus did not come to abolish the Jewish religion and laws. He came to be a fulfillment of what was spoken prior to His coming.
This brings me to my other major issue with this video. The speaker exudes a terrible understanding of Judaism, the Torah, and exactly who the Pharisees were. I don’t blame him, because I didn’t know much better until this past semester, and I still only have a tiny grasp on the issue.
The Pharisees were masters of the Torah. By age 12 the Jewish children had the first five books of the Bible memorized. From there only the best became Pharisees. These were not ignorant people, they were immersed in the Torah all the time. They were some of the greatest teachers and minds of the day. The new the Law EXTREMELY well. Sometimes in Christianity we don’t give them enough credit. We just write them off as idiots. This is not the case, they were extremely intelligent. It is important to understand that the law at the time was the only words given by God to the Jewish people. There was no understanding of a “trinity” to a Jew before and up to Jesus’s day. The common Jewish person did not have a “personal” relationship with God. In fact in Exodus the people told Moses to be the communicator between God and them. These are just a few things to keep in mind when it comes to the Pharisees, and the Jewish people. They thought that the coming Messiah was going to establish an earthly kingdom (and after reading more of the Old Testament I can see why!), they had no idea he was going to be God himself coming down among them. There is a a huge context that we need to understand before we go around throwing God’s chosen people under the bus in ignorance because it is a popular talking about.
What’s my point? My point is this. Jesus loves religion, He came for religion. Jesus literally came to reconnect us with God. So before we as Christians go around throwing slogans around like a beach ball at a nickelback concert ( I can’t take credit for that one liner), we need to understand what the terms we use actually mean. Part of the Christian life is trying to understand and define basic ideas that we grew up with. Here are a few I recommend to try and break down.
Define the Gospel
Good luck, and welcome to the conversation.
For a much more in depth view on this. Check this blog out. Really well done when pertaining to this subject